"Murder House" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Atlatl Press
Written by C.V. Hunt
2020, 130 pages, Fiction
Released on May 29th, 2020
My introduction to C.V. Hunt’s work was the short story, Last Woman on Earth. She impressed me immediately with her ability to pack such character development in only about nine pages. I really felt for the protagonist. The next piece I read from Hunt was Baby Hater; an absolutely delightful tale of a woman who goes around punching babies. That one is a lot of fun, and even sneaks in a statement on the pressure women who don’t have or don’t want kids get placed on them by society. So, naturally, I was eager to take a looksee at her latest offering, Murder House. It’s been a few weeks since I finished it, and I’m still thinking about it.
Here’s the thing: I went into Murder House expecting one thing, and got something completely and totally different from that. So different, in fact, I was annoyed. But the more I thought about what Hunt does here, the more I am impressed. And rather than ruin anything for you, I’m going to dance around it like I’m vaguebooking for attention on Facebook. Except this won’t be for attention, this is so you can experience exactly (maybe) what I did.
Murder House centers on Laura, a woman reluctantly accompanying her boyfriend Brent to stay in the home where a slaughter took place while he writes a book on those murders. Think the De Feo murders in Amityville, but in the slums of Detroit. And, as you can imagine, strange things start to happen not long after the two move in.
I have so much to say about this book, but so much I can’t. At 130 pages, there is virtually no fat and every word used is deliberate. You really feel for Laura. She has mental health issues and can’t afford her medication; she is in a loveless (and arguably likeless) relationship; and she has no hope for a job that pays well enough to fix any of these problems. She wants to leave, but the reality is she can’t; she’s too broke. So inevitably, she’s stuck in a house that may or may not be haunted with a man who is most definitely losing his shit. But is he going crazy from the house? Demons? Something else?
The biggest thing I love about Murder House is how Hunt does completely away with the haunted house tropes and delivers something that will have you thinking about long after you finish. I know that’s cliché, but that doesn’t make it less true. Because of everything she’s going through and the struggles she’s having with her mental health, Laura isn’t the most reliable narrator. That’s okay, though, because Hunt drops enough clues for you to come to your own conclusion and, even better, the conclusion you come to is debatable. I have my own feelings on what went on in that house, but I’m sure there are other reasonable explanations.
If I have any issues at all, it’s that I didn’t read this with a friend, because this is one of those novellas that begs for discussion.
If you’re looking for a book that busts the tropes of the haunted house while still managing to creep you out and make you think, pack your bags and get yourself into Murder House.
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